Topic: Compare and Contrast Goffman`s and Foucault`s explanations of how social order is made and remade.

Points to be noted are:

Define social order/disorder- interchangeable through perspective- who defines disorder>

Identify 2 views>

Compare and contrast>

Support the comparison with relevant evidence/examples from Making Social Lives chapter 7>

Goffman(human interaction) Foucault(discourses)views on social/maintenance>

Moderman`s `shared space`(Goffman) v. Buchanan `expertise`/aothority-(Foucault)






Social order: the manner in which a society is organized and the rules and standards required to maintain that organization. (Farlex) It is basically the totality of interpersonal human relationship in the society.

Social Disorder: Excessive fear of embarrassment in social situations that is extremely intrusive and can have huge effects on the personal and professional relationships. It can also be called social phobia. It is very persistence and can be termed as a irrational fear of certain situations or objects (, 2000)


INTRODUCTION: Erving Goffman and Michael Foucault are social scientists trying to explain that how social order is created in a society and where is it originated from. To start with let me talk about who creates social order so according to Goffman the people in the way of living and actions in their day to day life determines the social order.


According to Goffman social interaction is a deliberate interaction between the person and the social entities and environment. The behaviour and the style of a person depend on the impression he wants to create in the minds of the other person. The social interaction is manipulated. According to him the presentation of self is just like a stage performance and the person presents himself in a particular manner when he is in front of other people in order to control their views regarding him like a front stage performance and becomes his real self when alone like back stage. He emphasizes on the fact that a part of the personality is kept hidden as anything which is socially not acceptable or will embarrass the person is not disclosed.

He even says that the person can change roles and there is difference between the role and self but the main social role remains the same like when a student studying in  New York university works at the pizza station for part time, his main social role remains the same of a student, similarly when a doctor talks to a patient after discussing his diagnosis to answer his queries and reduce is anxiety it is not his main role but he perform such roles to satisfy his patients.


According to Goffman the asylums which existed were not appropriate to cure mental illness as the whole concept of mental illness was diffused there. The patient suffering from illness was not given proper treatment instead was forced to be treated as when certain abnormities were observed by the relatives of the patients they contacted the psychiatrist and got them admitted in the asylums where they were not treated properly and even their morale used to be down as they feel deceived by their loved one and here when a patient resisted the process they were punished by transferring them to a bad ward and only on the grounds of good behaviour was he then shifted back to   the normal one creating a kind of pressure to improve or else would stay in the same conditions. He also believed that the psychiatrist are also not fully educated and treat the patient on the basis of interpretation and not on the basis of evaluating the symptoms present. H e was unhappy with the treatment given to the people suffering from mental illness at that time. He also talked about Social stigma. Social stigma is a disapproval generated on the grounds of various characteristics that differentiate the person from the other members in the society. It comes in the give three forms:

1) Physical deformities such as leprosy .or external deformations such as scars

2) Mental ailments, drug addiction, alcoholism and criminal background

3) Division in the society on the basis of caste, religion, sex.

Metaphorical Investigations: The Dramaturgical and the Game Theoretic (Manning)

The individual has a personal front divided into two parts the appearance and the manners .Every individual while talking to a person gives some information knowingly and a part of information is given off unknowingly which can be called the information give off so the social behaviour a person is very complicated and you can even say that it is managed by a team of people. Goffman’s theory of the self so far involves a highly constructed performance, in which every element whether physical, verbal or mental has been developed so as to give the correct impression out to others. For example in a hotel all the staff members work together to give off the best of their capabilities irrespective of their social status (Hammond).



Madness and Civilization 

His main work was concerned the growth of all those disciplines which you can together call as human or social sciences. In his book ‘Madness and civilization’ how discusses as how madness came into existence. He threw light on this fact that how madness is termed as a social problem and then in 19 century how it was categorised as social failure. He discussed asylum as not a place of positivity and therapeutic treatment rather was a place where the accused was judged and condemned as an instrument of moral uniformity.

The Birth of the Clinic

When madness was described as a social failure there came into existence the specific institutions for the purpose of curing them.

Disciplinary Action

He says knowledge is power over others and can be termed as a source of regulation or surveillance. He said that if a person breaks some rule he should be punished in a form of disciplinary action taken against him as in contrast to the monarchial power exercised on him.(Wanli, 1998)





There are many ways in which one can produce social order in public spaces. Let look at the ways from two different views one of Buchanan report and the other Monderman’s thesis. Both of them have different views to produce social order in relation to traffic management.

The Buchanan report was made by Colin Buchanan who was an engineer in early 1960.He was at that time commissioned by the UK government to work on a report for the ministry of transport. In this report he was asked to finding ways in order to match the road infrastructure with that of the vehicle demand. He was asked to do so as the government feared that in future there would a road congestion was there is a rapid increase in the demand for car travel and there is no matching road infrastructure for it.Buchanan thought to restrict the use of cars in town that means that there would be a segregation of the cars and the pedestrians in the town. According to him car were given their own individual space and the pedestrians were safely tucked away in residential blocks. On the contrary in Monderman’s thesis created by Hans Monderman, who was a Dutch engineer in 1980, the principle of ‘naked street’ was followed. This approach was different as compared to the Buchanan’s approach in which he used the shared public philosophy. He believed that rather than segregating the vehicles and the pedestrians they should coexist and negotiate the space between them. He did it by removing many of the ‘traffic calming measures’ that were there in existence and said that the trouble with the various traffic engineers is that whenever there is any problem they always try to add something rather than removing what is not required. The two of them differed in their views a lot.


The views of both the sociologist differ and do match in some places, their work has been criticized by many people like for Goffman theory of self many say that he has taken the self has know to everybody for granted and has given very little information on it and even about the ways he says that people manipulates their behaviour socially is objectionable. So they both have been criticized yet their contribution to the study of social order is indispensible.





Farlex, The free dictionary, ‘Social order’, viewed on 20 May 2012.



Hammond H, ‘Critically assess Goffman’s analysis of the presentation of self.’ Viewed on 20 May 2012.



Manning P, ‘Goffman encyclopaedia and social theory’ viewed on 20 May 2012

<…/…>, 2000, ‘Defination of social disorder’, viewed on 20 May 2012.

<>, ‘Compare and contrast two views of how social order is created in public space’ viewed on 20 May 2012.



Wanli L, 1998, Power and Discourse: Michel Foucault and his Theories’ viewed on 20 May 2012.



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